This past Friday, The Black Couch Studio and Gallery owner, Mark Narens, hosted an intimate art show at Bang! Salon in Wicker Park. The night starting at 7pm featured live-looping music from Ever Evolved’s own artist, Cameron Broderick. Singing popular songs such as Lights by Ellie Goulding, and So Close by Alex Clare made everyone pay attention to his unique layering and bright talent.
Of course though, the first thing you’ll notice about the salon is how eclectic it is. It’s electric colored walls and friendly staff is definitely something that jumped out at me. Not only that, but at how many salons do you see an empty Jack bottle being used for a sprayer ?
I had the pleasure to talk to many staff members of the night and finally bumped into the owner, Eli. Searching for more about Bang! Salon, I just had to ask him how he opened up shop. Working for 5 months out of his apartment with 2 other stylists from a previous failed business venture, they started to raise money for their salon. Luckily, his building used to be a commercial space, and he was legally able to incorporate Bang! before he even opened up the current location. Saving as he went, having loyal clientele and borrowing just a little money let him open up shop for almost nothing. “Month by month I bought a chair here, a mirror there, to what it is now. I mean we’ve been open for 8 and a half years now, with 8 full time stylists, 2 in training, and a full time front desk manager.”
What’s even more special is that Bang! Salon is in the process of expanding, going from 6 chairs to 16. ” A lot of what is contributed to the success is not only my educational background of the industry [he also teaches], but also in 2012 I won Hair Stylist of the year for North America (North American Hairstyling Awards). I was nominated in 2 categories, and I won the biggest one … that gave us a lot of local recognition in Chicago, because I was the only one to win it here ever! That’s what helped us get to this next level, which is the expansion. ” It was surprising to find out from Eli that there was an awards ceremony dedicated to great hair stylists. It’s something that always will be around as a profession, so its appealing to know that stylists, such as Eli, can and do get recognized for their efforts.
The BIG question I asked though is, what really makes Bang! Salon different from those in the surrounding area? Eli gladly answered, “My goal was to work in an environment where everyone was passionate … they are just as [excited] about what they are doing on their clients as I am. We like that comforting and welcoming environment, [not stuffy and closed in like most salons, Bang! doesn’t even smell like hair products when you walk in]. We’re super diverse, catering from babies to older and elderly people … as artists it keeps us from getting bored and doing the same type of hair all the time. … We’re here to be the best we can be as stylists, cater to our client’s needs as well as we can; [but overall] just get along and respect each other as artists.”
When I asked if Eli had anything else to add, he spoke up about a company he is currently teaming up with, Lock and Loaded,a men’s grooming company. He’s their artistic director. They share a lot of the same values as Eli has with Bang! After developing for 5 years, the duo finally released a product line of 4 men’s styling products, shampoo and a conditioner. Even though it’s Chicago based, it’s quickly blowing up nationally, and starting to move its way across waters. The craziest part about it is the product has only been launched for 4 weeks. “Its fun to see that take off the way it is,” Eli adds.
Coming back to Friday’s event, this was actually Bang!’s first art show. Mark Narens had some wonderful pieces and prints displayed on the walls, and even laid some down on the leather chairs for people to pick up and investigate for themselves. Eli adds, “… just to do an event like this … [supporting] artists, I don’t see enough support in Chicago with complimentary artistic fields as there are … so I’m really happy to help Support The Black Couch.” And The Black Couch supports the salons. They used to support local shops in the neighborhood because they supported art. But since they wanted to get back in it again, they called around to see who would be interested in hosting Mark’s show. Bang! was the first salon they made contact with. “As soon as I walked in for the first time I knew this was it” said mark, “This is the place.”
To book an appointment with Bang! Salon, call : (773)- 276- 9414
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